Written by Sara Tasker

Lifestyle

Put on your shitkickers and kick out some shit

New year, fresh start, right? Right! Sara Tasker offers 10 quick and painless decluttering tasks to kickstart 2016.

tidy kitchen shelf

All photos by Sara Tasker.

I can’t be the only one who gets this way: the Christmas tree is down, the last of the pine needles vacuumed up, and still, the house feels much too full. December’s steady ingress of newness and stuff has taken its toll, leaving piles of homeless objects and cupboard doors that burst free in the night.

In the cold light of a January day, it’s clear that we have way too much stuff. Radio 4 on, bin bag at the ready: it’s time to get minimal.

more tidy kitchen shelves1. Spare mugs

Most of us keep an entire cupboard stocked full of coffee cups, despite only ever socialising in groups of four or five. Limit yourself to however many you regularly need for the life you actually live. If you’re suddenly called upon to host the local WI, polystyrene will do fine. (Mugs can be weirdly sentimentalised items – if you’re struggling to let go, check out my tricks here.)

2. ALL of the Christmas cards

Unless you have a really special reason to keep one, put them all in the recycling now before they migrate into the ‘sentimental clutter’ category. I promise, you’ll never think about them again. If you need to keep an address or a message, take a faff-free photograph on your phone.

3. Kitchen multiples

You can only use one whisk/spatula/peeler/rolling pin at a time, so get rid of the extras. One cafetiere is plenty, especially if you have other coffee makers too. *guilty face*

4. Unfinished toiletries

If it feels too wasteful to throw them away, combine the dregs in your current bottles and mix – shampoo is shampoo, and it didn’t smell that much like a rainforest anyway.

pile of folded clean towels5. Unwanted Christmas gifts

Storing them only prolongs the guilt, reminding you of your ingratitude every time you venture to the back of the cupboard. Donate them to charity and let them find a new home where they’ll be appreciated.

6. Old duplicates

If you got fancy new wine glasses for Christmas, get rid of the old ones. This applies to children’s toys, too: one dollhouse/toy pushchair/play tent is plenty.

7. The underwear you never choose to wear

Main contenders for me are things with giant bows on the bum, stuff made of plastic mesh and anything resembling cheese wire.

8. Last year’s diary/calendar

No, you won’t need to check anything! If you have to hold onto one for work, store it there. It’s time for a fresh start.

9. The paper pile

Contact your providers and arrange for paperless billing. Put important documents like car registration, birth certificates and health records in a safe place, then shred or burn everything else – you can always request new copies should you suddenly need them.

If you’re unsure about anything, take a quick copy using one of the many scanner apps available for your phone.

neat living room shelf10. The bookshelves

For every book on your shelf, hold it and ask, would I read this right now if I had a spare hour? Does it excite me? [Give it the Ella Walker test – Ed] If it doesn’t, you’re unlikely to ever choose it. They’re so cheap to replace now anyway, so do an Elsa and let it go.

See more of Sara’s iPhone photography at meandorla.co.uk

@meandorla

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Written by Sara Tasker

A photographer, blogger and dedicated napper, Sara's career highlights include getting a DM on twitter from Jon Ronson and once appearing on Radio 4 at 6am. She lives in Yorkshire with a dodgy WiFi connection.